Most people are aware of the threat of breast cancer to both men and women and the importance of early detection. But did you know your pets can get breast cancer, too? In honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, here are four things to know about mammary cancer in pets.
1. Mammary tumors are the most common form of cancer found in female dogs and, just like humans, the cancer can also affect male dogs.
2. Over 50% of tumors in dogs and 90% of tumors in cats are malignant – meaning the cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
3. The #1 best way to eliminate your pet’s risk is to commit to spaying. Not only will you help reduce the population of potentially unwanted pets, but the chance of your pet developing breast tumors drops to 0.05% when spayed before the first heat cycle. If you wait until after the first heat cycle, the risk increases to 8% and increases to 26% after the second heat cycle. After age 2, spaying will no longer reduce your pets’ risk of developing mammary tumors. We recommend spaying and neutering at 6 months of age to offer the best chance of protection against mammary cancer.
4. Perform exams at home. In addition to annual wellness visits to your vet, commit to checking your pets abdomen for signs of irregularities, including lumps, bumps, and bald spots. As with people, early detection is the best first step toward treatment!